Home, work, home, work... How much can you take?

9 April 1986 British Airways 5662 Birmingham to Edinburgh
9 April 1986 British Airways 5669 Edinburgh to Birmingham

How much can one say about a particular route and journey? It is most striking, however, on a day trip, that the day is very long, and that more time is spent in the office than is usually the case for a day at home base. I must admit, however, that looking at my notes, I don't recall exactly what purpose this particular journey served. Probably it was just more of the same.

24 April 1986 British Airways 5662 Birmingham to Edinburgh
25 April 1986 British Airways 5669 Edinburgh to Birmingham

Fortunately, I do have something to say about this one. After a wearisome couple of days, the light was at the end of the tunnel, and it looked as if soon this horrible part of my existence with the company would be at an end.

A friend from the office in Birmingham who had the same birthday as me was also in Edinburgh that day, but working on something else. He was flying back to Birmingham that night. Ah! It looked as if there would be company that night after all. The only problem is that he was a notoriously heavy drinker. So it was that he and I spent the time between work and check-in in the pub just outside the office, followed by a couple more in the airport lounge, a couple more while in the air. I'm sorry to say that as we went over a bump in the sky, the drinks went everywhere, leaving a rather intriguingly shaped stain on my trousers. I wore a different suit the next day.

After landing, we both needed to drop some papers off at the office. This took us a couple of hours: two minutes to drop off the papers and the rest of the time in the pub.

Strangely enough, the next day he couldn't understand why he wasn't up to par. I pointed out how much we had drunk the previous night. He didn't seem to have counted the drinks outside his normal local, which represented perhaps six drinks on top of what he had consumed once we were back in Birmingham.

Shortly afterwards, he was disqualified from driving for twelve months. The accident that caused this decision very nearly disqualified him from more than just driving.

I am sorry to say that he died in a fire in March 1991. It seemed that he had been working late on Friday night and had returned to his flat rather than going home to London, and when a fire started in the downstairs flat, nobody knew he was there. He probably never woke and never knew anything about it. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.

28 April 1986 British Airways 5662 Birmingham to Edinburgh
1 May 1986 British Airways 5685 Edinburgh to Birmingham

At last the whole thing was at an end, or so it seemed at the time. The problem was resolved, though not perfectly, but well enough for all to seem happy, up to a point. Either way, I wasn't going to show them any obvious defects in the work that had been done: they would find that themselves soon enough, but it would all be soluble. It was a much happier few days than I had expected it to be. Even more was the thought that I would be able to leave early on the last day. All the same, various aviation problems still had to be overcome. Were there any seats left on the afternoon flight from Edinburgh? Would they allow me to change my reservation?

A telephone call to the airport proved unrewarding. As far as they knew, the flight was full, but nobody was on the waiting list. A moment later, my name featured at the top of the previously empty list.

After a lift to the airport and checking in as a standby passenger, the wait started. The main problem was that the flight was delayed, and didn't seem to be coming at all at first. Eventually, after a wait of a couple of hours, it arrived. The aeroplane in question was a Hawker-Siddeley HS-748, not a large aeroplane, not a jet either. However, it did have a seat available for me. Not a very big seat, but a seat nevertheless. The journey was not graced with food, but just drink, and took an hour and a half, as compared with less than an hour on the BAC 1-11.

As the rear door opened after landing at Birmingham, an accent that came unmistakably from the Black Country said "What time d'you call this then?"

I wasn't complaining, as it was still three hours before the evening flight was even due. Not only that, but I benefited from the experience of another type of aeroplane. Probably it was an experience I could have done well without.

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